Man behind Trump's trillion-dollar infrastructure bill says it will create jobs

Apr 27, 2017 12

Imagine you had a trillion dollars and your job is to figure out how to spend it.

That’s essentially the task the Trump administration gave Norman Anderson, president of CG/LA infrastructure, in prioritizing projects for its promised “Make America Great Again” trillion dollar infrastructure bill.                  

“It’s a lot of money,” said Anderson as he paced the brick walkway in front of Union Station in Washington, D.C.

Anderson is known in D.C. for a special talent: knowing the right projects to pick at the right time.

“I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about how to prioritize infrastructure projects,” he explained.

TRUMP ASKS CONGRESS FOR BILL TO LAUNCH TRILLION-DOLLAR INFRASTRUCTURE PACKAGE

Indeed, in the 1990s, Anderson worked hand in hand with Transportation Secretary Rodney Slater during the Clinton Administration, and has personally spent decades overseeing water and power projects in the United State and around the world.

“He’s one of the few people in this country,” said Republican National Committee Treasurer Tony Parker, “that actually really knows and has worked with infrastructure.”

Recently the Trump administration asked Anderson’s advice on how he would spend the money in what could be one of the largest in infrastructure bills in the nation’s history. That is exactly why Anderson created his list of the country’s top 50 infrastructure projects. It includes repairing the crumbling 1-95 corridor in North Carolina, rebuilding the Kansas City airport, and constructing a 250-mile high speed rail from Houston to Dallas.

His main criteria?

“The projects are ready to go, and will create jobs,” he said. “The other piece is that the private sector is ready to invest in these projects right now.”

Anderson, for instance, wants to turn Union Station into “a modern-day shopping experience.”

“Just like Heathrow airport,” he explained. “What that does is that it ends up paying for the long-term operation and maintenance of the facility.”

But he says you can’t be spending this much money without politics and favoritism being built into the process. He knows he’s going to have national politicians and state politicians, all wanting a piece of this infrastructure bill.

TRUMP SAYS HE’LL ONLY FUND SHOVEL-READY INFRASTRUCTURE JOBS

So how does he make sure the right projects get funded for the right reasons?

“I think what you do is you look at jobs. And not just the jobs that are created by the project,” he said. “You’re talking about all the manufacturing jobs that go into the project.”

“So our 50 projects,” he continued, “they light up more than 50 percent of the congressional districts in the U.S.”

He added that “if you look at the operational and maintenance jobs” over the 30- to 40-year period of the projects, “they will create seven times the initial capital costs.”

When spending is done right and for the right reasons, Anderson describes it in two words.

“It’s phenomenal.”

Many of the project drawings will be on display on Thursday, April 27th at CG/LA’s “Inaugural Blueprint 2025 Leadership Forum” at the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.

Douglas Kennedy currently serves as a correspondent for FOX News Channel (FNC). He joined the network in 1996 and is based in New York.

Obama's $400G Wall Street speech leaves liberal base stunned

Apr 27, 2017 17

Former President Obama’s upcoming speech to Wall Streeters is putting $400,000 in his pocket – and putting longtime supporters in a difficult situation.

Democratic Party leaders and grass roots activists alike are at a loss to explain how the onetime champion of the 99 percent could cash in with a September address at a health care conference run by investment firm Cantor Fitzgerald.

“Spiritual leader of the people’s #Resistance cashes in with $400k speech to Wall Street bankers,” read one tweet.

“[Money] is a snake that slithers through Washington.”

– Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass.

“Obama’s $400,000 Wall Street speech will cost @TheDemocrats much more than that,” read another. “It reinforces everything progressives hate about Democrats.”

Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., said she “was troubled by that,” when asked her opinion on Sirius XM’s “Alter Family Politics” radio show this morning. But she held back from criticizing the president directly while referring repeatedly to her new book, “This Fight is Our Fight,” in which she outlines her concerns about big money’s influence on American politics.

“One of the things I talk about in the book is the influence of money. It’s a snake that slithers through Washington,” Warren said.

Calls to other prominent liberal elected officials, including Sen Bernie Sanders, the Vermont Independent who ran hard for the Democratic presidential nomination by championing the middle class and denouncing Wall Street, and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer were not immediately returned.

While Obama’s longtime allies in Washington were taciturn, far-left groups that viewed him as their champion could not hide their bitterness. 

“Even if he donates the money from this Wall Street firm to charity, his speech and remuneration reminds ‘ordinary’ working class people that both major political parties are in bed with Big Business,” said David Michael Smith, of the Houston Socialist Movement. “In my view, our country needs a new kind of political party and social movement to represent the vast majority of the population, not the wealthy few.” 

The fee – equal to one year’s presidential salary – was not the issue with critics so much as the idea a leader the Democratic base always considered beyond the reach of Wall Street taking it.

“Now Democrats are being put in the position of deciding whether their former president should take $400,000 from Wall Street for a speech,” the left-leaning Washington Post wrote. “At the least, it risks suggesting the party’s anti-Wall Street posture is in some cases just that — posturing.”

Some of Obama’s supporters saw nothing wrong with the former president’s pay day.

“He served us faithfully and well for 8 years as President – he doesn’t work for us anymore. More power to him,” one supporter wrote on Twitter.

Obama spokesman Ed Schulz insisted the former president remains true to his progressive values, and said taking money from Wall Street is not the same as being bought by Wall Street.

“With regard to this or any speech involving Wall Street sponsors, I’d just point out that in 2008, Barack Obama raised more money from Wall Street than any candidate in history — and still went on to successfully pass and implement the toughest reforms on Wall Street since FDR,” Schulz said.

Still, the development seemed a far cry from sentiments Obama expressed in his 2006 memoir, “The Audacity of Hope.”

“The path of least resistance – of fund-raisers organized by the special interests, the corporate PACs, and the top lobbying shops – starts to look awfully tempting, and if the opinions of these insiders don’t quite jibe with those you once held, you learn to rationalize the changes as a matter of realism, of compromise, of learning the ropes,” then-Sen. Obama wrote. “The problems of ordinary people, the voices of the Rust Belt town or the dwindling heartland, become a distant echo rather than a palpable reality, abstractions to be managed rather than battles to be fought.”

Obama will have an opportunity to reconcile his evolving position on money and politics in his next memoir, for which he has already signed a $60 million deal.

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai reveals plan to 'reverse the mistake' of 'net neutrality'

Apr 27, 2017 11

Ajit Pai, the chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, announced on Wednesday a plan to “reverse the mistake” of the Obama-era “net neutrality” regulations.

The plan seeks to take apart the Obama-era FCC ruling in 2015 that classified Internet service providers like AT&T and Comcast as Title II public utilities, subject to FCC control, which allowed more stringent oversight over companies that might block or inhibit access to certain types of web services by creating pay-to-play fast lanes for certain content.

Speaking to at a Washington, D.C., event held by the conservative advocacy group FreedomWorks, Pai pledged “we are going to deliver” on undoing the “heavy-handed” rule.

He said he shared with his fellow commissioners a proposal “reverse the mistake” of the Title II classification and to return to the “light touch” regulatory framework Pai often speaks about.

The notice of proposed rulemaking will be voted on at the FCC’s public meeting on May 18, and if passed, which is expected as Republicans outnumber Democrats two-to-one, a public comment period will follow.

The rule would return the classification of broadband service to a Title I information service, which he said can trace its roots back to the Clinton administration and upheld by the Supreme Court in 2005.

Click here for more from The Washington Examiner. 

IG launches probe into Flynn's foreign payments; letter shows he was warned

Apr 27, 2017 10

The Defense Department inspector general has launched a probe into whether former national security adviser Michael Flynn failed to obtain prior approval for foreign payments he received – as new documents indicate he was warned about such arrangements. 

Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., top Democrat on the House oversight committee, released new documents relating to the controversy surrounding President Trump’s fired security adviser.

One was an October 2014 letter from the Defense Intelligence Agency Office of General Counsel warning Flynn he was barred from taking payments from foreign sources without permission. Flynn later earned tens of thousands of dollars from Russia’s state-sponsored RT television network and from a Turkish businessman linked to Turkey’s government.

Cummings also released a letter from the inspector general confirming the launch of its investigation.

Cummings claimed Thursday he’s seen “no evidence” that Flynn got the necessary permission.

“These documents raise grave questions about why General Flynn concealed the payments he received from foreign sources after he was warned explicitly by the Pentagon,” he said in a statement.

Flynn’s lawyer said in a statement earlier this week that Flynn disclosed the Russia trip in conversations with the Defense Intelligence Agency, where he was its former director.

“As has previously been reported, General Flynn briefed the Defense Intelligence Agency, a component agency of (the Defense Department), extensively regarding the RT speaking event trip both before and after the trip, and he answered any questions that were posed by DIA concerning the trip during those briefings,” attorney Robert Kelner said.

But Cummings said a recent DIA letter shows they did not find records regarding that money. Oversight Chairman Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, and Cummings both want the Army to rule on whether Flynn informed and asked permission for the payments from Russian and Turkish entities.

Cummings also accused the White House of “covering up” for Flynn, who was dismissed after allegedly misleading Vice President Pence about past contact with the Russian ambassador.

 “There is a paper trail that the WH does not want our committee to follow. But let it be known that we will follow it,” Cummings said.

The White House rejects any assertions that it’s not cooperating.  

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Letter shows Michael Flynn warned about foreign money; IG launches probe

Apr 27, 2017 7

The Defense Department inspector general has launched a probe into whether former national security adviser Michael Flynn failed to obtain prior approval for foreign payments he received – as new documents indicate he was warned about such arrangements. 

Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., top Democrat on the House oversight committee, released new documents relating to the controversy surrounding President Trump’s fired security adviser.

One was an October 2014 letter from the Defense Intelligence Agency Office of General Counsel warning Flynn he was barred from taking payments from foreign sources without permission. Flynn later earned tens of thousands of dollars from Russia’s state-sponsored RT television network and from a Turkish businessman linked to Turkey’s government.

Cummings also released a letter from the inspector general confirming the launch of its investigation.

Cummings claimed Thursday he’s seen “no evidence” that Flynn got the necessary permission.

“These documents raise grave questions about why General Flynn concealed the payments he received from foreign sources after he was warned explicitly by the Pentagon,” he said in a statement.

Flynn’s lawyer said in a statement earlier this week that Flynn disclosed the Russia trip in conversations with the Defense Intelligence Agency, where he was its former director.

“As has previously been reported, General Flynn briefed the Defense Intelligence Agency, a component agency of (the Defense Department), extensively regarding the RT speaking event trip both before and after the trip, and he answered any questions that were posed by DIA concerning the trip during those briefings,” attorney Robert Kelner said.

But Cummings said a recent DIA letter shows they did not find records regarding that money. Oversight Chairman Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, and Cummings both want the Army to rule on whether Flynn informed and asked permission for the payments from Russian and Turkish entities.

Cummings also accused the White House of “covering up” for Flynn, who was dismissed after allegedly misleading Vice President Pence about past contact with the Russian ambassador.

 “There is a paper trail that the WH does not want our committee to follow. But let it be known that we will follow it,” Cummings said.

The White House rejects any assertions that it’s not cooperating.  

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Brunt of Syrian war hitting unborn children, mothers hardest

Apr 27, 2017 11

Before the outbreak of the Syrian Civil War in 2011, medical professionals participated in an estimated 96 percent of deliveries in the Middle Eastern country. But as the more than six-year-long civil war drags on, with scores of hospitals having been blown to bits and doctors having died or fled, Syria’s unborn babies are the conflict’s unseen victims.

“Most female doctors have had to leave the country. There is a fear of coming to the hospital, and transportation to even get to one is very difficult,” Syrian doctor Khaled Almilaji, who is raising funds to build an underground medical facility, known as Avicenna Women and Children’s Hospital, in Idlib, told Fox News. “Most of the attention goes always to the victims and affected people who are luckily caught by media. Unfortunately, these fetuses can’t even be seen. And they will still suffer and cause suffering to their moms as long as not enough care is delivered.”

Opposition activists claim that pediatric and maternity hospitals have been especially targeted throughout the conflict. After three airstrikes reduced such a facility to rubble in rebel-held Idlib earlier this month, Dr. Mounir Hakimi, chairman of Syria Relief, said that the “sickening” nature of these attacks amounts to war crimes.

Because choosing to have a baby in a hospital or medical facility exposes mother and baby to death or injury from attacks by the regime or its allies, women do their best to plan their babies’ births. At least 40 percent of births in Syria are by cesarean section, according to an estimate by Doctors Without Borders. That’s three to five times higher than prewar figures.

C-sections in Syria are performed in often primitive conditions. When asked what they needed most, one Syrian doctor told Fox News “flashlights,” as they were attempting to deliver babies in the dark to avoid detection and aerial bombardment.

Even if a medical facility is not bombed while a mother is birthing, and the medical staff has flashlights, she is often subject to a horrendous level of pain. In rebel-held regions like Idlib and areas of Homs, there isn’t enough anesthesia for those who have lost limbs let alone for women giving birth.

One young father in a rebel-controlled village in Homs, who requested only to be identified by his first name of Mahmoud, told Fox News that not only has he heard the animalistic cries of friends undergoing amputations without pain medicines, but the screams of women in labor are just as excruciating.

“We used to have two gynecologists here in our village. One remains and the other was arrested by the regime,” he said.

The war’s effect on pregnant women and their babies extends beyond Syria. In neighboring Lebanon, for example, it is estimated that C-sections have risen to as high as 50 percent of all live births. That’s largely because pregnant Syrian refugees remain consumed by the fear of having a natural, unscheduled birth. But C-sections carry their own risks, the World Health Organization says. Those risks – chief among which is infection — are especially high among women who have endured poor sanitary conditions or a lack of prenatal care.

SYRIA’S SECRET CAVES SERVE AS HOSPITALS IN FINAL LIFELINE TO SAVE VICTIMS

FRENCH OFFICIAL SAYS SARIN GAS USED IN SYRIA ATTACK

On top of the medical risks of unnecessary C-sections is the financial drain of the procedure that patients and their families must endure.

A Syrian grandmother living in the squalid confines of a large refugee camp in northern Iraq told Fox News that her daughter-in-law, who was pregnant when the whole family fled on foot in 2015, went “weeks past” her expected due date.

“The baby was stuck and we had no money to go to a hospital,” the grandmother said. “But we walked around to the tents and sold what we had — our refrigerator, our gold and our food — so she could go to a private hospital and the little boy was born healthy.”

Besides a spike in C-sections, the alleged targeting of medical facilities has also triggered a spike in home births, sometimes with attendants who are not properly trained. While there is not sufficient data on mortality rates, several doctors and humanitarian organizations said that this has led to a spike in medical complications during deliveries and deaths of mothers and babies.

Then there are the increased premature births and miscarriages, the direct result of the war-generated fear and trauma.

“We are seeing an increase in complicated deliveries, miscarriages and unwanted pregnancies,” Sabine Baunach, reproductive health adviser at Save the Children, said. “And low birth weights, pre-term deliveries and increased morbidity and mortality for mother and child.”

Save the Children provides essential healthcare at eight facilities in northwestern Syria, with a focus on reproductive health and vaccination, she said. But it is proving to be more and more challenging by the day.

Add to all of the above consequences of Syria’s war for mothers and babies, Baunach said, “There is also an increase in women suffering sexual violence as a result of the conflict.”

Finally, there is the alternative of abortion for pregnant war victims. Women near or far from the battlefield are all too aware of their likely inability to adequately care for their babies, post-partum. Because of the costs and illegality of abortions in Syria, some mothers have sought often-dangerous methods of terminating their pregnancies. The WHO has reported a rise in “incomplete abortions,” in which women take pills or try other potentially fatal means to induce an abortion.

In 2012, the second year of the bloody conflict, the U.N. Population Fund was able to distribute some 1.5 million family planning pills, 21,000 condoms and almost 100,000 other means of female birth control to Syrians affected by fighting. However, the shipments became increasingly sporadic and as the war went on, it became harder for outside organizations to reach those in need.

Mahmoud, whose own two toddlers were born during the war, explained that “newborns do not have the most basic elements like diapers and formula,” and that mothers are often too malnourished to provide satisfactory breastmilk if they can lactate at all.

“And my children are suffering now,” he said.

Still, he added, “we consider ourselves the lucky ones.”

Hollie McKay has been a FoxNews.com staff reporter since 2007. She has reported extensively from the Middle East on the rise and fall of terrorist groups such as ISIS in Iraq. Follow her on twitter at @holliesmckay

California gas tax hike prompts fierce backlash from the right

Apr 27, 2017 8

A 12-cent gas tax hike recently approved by California’s Democratic leaders has prompted a huge backlash on the right, with a grassroots coalition vowing to ensure it never takes effect.

A combination of AM-radio talk show hosts, a consumer advocacy group and a GOP assemblywoman have joined forces to battle the measure – set to kick in this November – that would give California the dubious honor of the second-highest gas tax in the nation at 73.2 cents per gallon. Only Pennsylvania residents will pay more, with a 77.7-cent tax.

California isn’t alone in the gas tax money grab. The Institute for Energy Research says a dozen states are considering similar hikes. On Jan. 1, another seven states saw an increase: Michigan, Pennsylvania, Nebraska, Georgia, North Carolina, Indiana and Florida.

The California tax  ​– which also increases yearly vehicle registration fees – was pushed along by Gov. Jerry Brown to raise an additional $52 billion for road repairs from a newly created fund.

The tax does not have a ceiling and could skyrocket from there, said Republican state Assemblywoman Melissa Melendez. And critics question the benefit – and complain the ​taxes currently go into the ​general fund​, which has backed questionable items like a $100 billion high-speed rail project in the desert.

“We are building a broad-based coalition, people are just fed up,” said former San Diego city councilman and GOP political activist Carl DeMaio, who hosts a local radio show. “This is rushed through and will hit working families pretty hard. It will cost an extra $300 to $500 per driver every year … This is the final straw.”

DeMaio has joined forces with talk show hosts John and Ken on Los Angeles’ KFI. The duo was instrumental in recalling former Gov. Gray Davis in 2003 over several issues, including tripling the car tax and giving drivers licenses to illegal immigrants.

The three hosts plan on using their public platform to try recalling Orange County Democratic Sen. Josh Newman, who was elected ​to his first term ​last year by a narrow margin. He helped pass the gas tax, which was approved by state lawmakers with the exact number of votes required.

Newman is seen as the most vulnerable target in a bid to roll back the plan.

“Once he is recalled, we will issue an ultimatum: either you rescind the tax or we will go after you,” DeMaio said.

​Newman’s office ​verified that he had been served last week with a recall notice.

Other foes include the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association, which led a successful 1978 ballot measure to cap property tax increases, and Melendez, who says she has been overwhelmed with bipartisan complaints from her Southern California constituents.

The Howard Jarvis group is looking at a ballot measure for next year that would restrict gas​ price increases beyond the national average, said organization president Jon Coupal.

He complained that only 20 cents of every gas tax dollar goes toward repairing the state’s crumbling roads and bridges, while the other 80 cents goes to the general fund to pay for California’s skyrocketing pension system. 

“You can call it a transportation tax, education tax or health care tax. At end of day the money will find its way into public employee compensation,” Coupal said.

Melendez is working the legal channel. She has accused Gov. Brown of offering to dole out transportation dollars to legislators who voted for the measure – which passed the Legislature ​along party lines ​on April 6​ with the exception of one Republican, Sen. Anthony Cannella of Northern California.

Melendez was incensed to learn that Cannella and t​hree​ other lawmakers will receive millions for projects in their districts. One ​of the companion bills reviewed by Fox News is dated Jan. 11 and shows an amendment on April 5 to include language devoting funds to Cannella’s district.

​Melendez has asked Attorney General Xavier Becerra, a Democrat, to conduct ​”an investigation of apparent quid pro quo-inspired vote trading.” Her letter named ​Brown and two other legislators as ringleaders without specifying the lawmakers who benefitted. She later pointed to Cannella and three Democrats.

Cannella, though, has admitted to lobbying for the funds and says he didn’t do anything wrong. Fox News requested comment and was sent a press release​ discussing the gas tax as a solution for repairing roads.

​While Brown hasn’t announced when he will sign the bill and the amendments, he is one of the backers and his signature is guaranteed, Melendez said.

​Brown did not agree to an interview for this story; however, spokeswoman Deborah Hoffman provided Fox News with recent ​ comments the governor made on the bribery allegations, which he called “preposterous.”

“When somebody says, ‘here, here’s $10,000, I want your vote,’ you’ve got bribery, it’s illegal,” Brown said. “When someone says, ‘you know, I think this bill would be better if you include these projects or these ideas or these rules,’ we listen. That’s democracy, that’s openness and that is the compromise spirit that makes democracies work.”

Tori Richards is a freelance writer based in Los Angeles.

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Trump has his Cabinet, but lagging behind on other appointments

Apr 27, 2017 7

While President Trump overcame deep Democratic resistance to install his Cabinet picks in his first 100 days, the former executive has struggled to fill hundreds of other administration posts — and the vacancies could pose a mounting challenge as his presidency moves into the next phase. 

Trump has been historically slow in naming people to non-Cabinet posts requiring Senate confirmation. Overall, he’s had the fewest nominations and confirmations in his first 100 days of any president in the last 40 years. 

According to Partnership for Public Service, a nonprofit organization that tracks presidential appointments, there are approximately 556 key administration positions that require presidential appointment and Senate confirmation. Of those, 468 are missing a full-time replacement. 

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., claimed this was just “another example” of an unsuccessful first 100 days.

“Because of the White House’s glacial pace, there are hundreds and hundreds of Senate confirmable positions without any pending nominee from the administration, and just 7 pending nominees before the Senate,” Schumer said. “Instead of pointing fingers of blame, the administration ought to roll up their sleeves and send qualified nominees to the Senate.” 

The White House did not respond to Fox News’ request for comment on the delay in announcing nominees, but just this week, the president told the Associated Press he just “never realized how big it was.”

“This is thousands of times bigger, the United States, than the biggest company in the world—the second-largest company in the world is the Defense Department, the third-largest company in the world is Social Security,” Trump told the Associated Press. “It’s massive, every agency is, like, bigger than any company—so, you know, I really just see the bigness of it all, but also the responsibility.” 

By the 100th day of Barack Obama’s first term, he had 69 positions filled and confirmed.

As of day 98, Trump has 24. 

Despite the delay for mid-level posts, Trump just about has his Cabinet in place. He is waiting only on Alexander Acosta to be installed as Labor secretary and Robert Lightheizer as trade representative. Sonny Perdue was confirmed as Agriculture secretary on Tuesday.  

Trump also was decisive with his February appointment of Judge Neil Gorsuch to take late-Justice Antonin Scalia’s seat on the bench of the Supreme Court. Democrats attempted to block Gorsuch, which pushed Republicans to “go nuclear” and change Senate precedent to secure confirmation earlier this month. 

But among the hundreds of vacancies are 93 unfilled U.S. attorneys posts, after Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ request for the resignation of holdover U.S. attorneys in March. Sessions told Fox News last week that U.S. attorney nominations and confirmations typically “follow” other critical appointments.

Just this week, Sessions saw his first Senate-confirmed member of the DOJ, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. The new No. 2 is a longtime federal prosecutor and will oversee the federal probe into Russian influence in the 2016 presidential election after Sessions recused himself.

“Congress is always slow—we are not behind on U.S. attorneys—they have, and always have been late summer, early fall,” Sessions told Fox News’ “Happening Now.” “We are moving forward with some really great nominees—U.S. attorneys are critical law enforcement officers—they work with federal agencies, all the state agencies and they provide leadership and drive for those prosecutions—we need great U.S. attorneys.”

But the responsibility to nominate these attorneys and other key posts falls to the president.

“It’s hard to point the finger at Senate Democrats when there aren’t very many names before them,” Max Stier, CEO of Partnership for Public Service, told Fox News. “The Trump team has fallen behind on an essential aspect of running the most complicated, important, diverse organization on the planet and you can’t do it properly if you don’t have the right people put in place.”

Stier did, however, sympathize with the president’s situation, saying there are “too many” political appointees and “no one has done this process right.”

“If you don’t have your top people confirmed quickly, then you can’t select people downstream from there,” Stier said.

Former chief of staff to President George H.W. Bush and former governor of New Hampshire John Sununu gave the Trump administration the school-grade of a ‘C’ in terms of putting their team in place.

“They need to be more aggressive on getting their appointments through, even to the point of trying to figure out how to name acting people in the agencies in order to get their policies implemented,” Sununu told “America’s Newsroom.” “Bring people up from the bottom of the ranks that they trust, and put them in an acting position and start making the changes that will force the Democrats to start doing the approvals in the Senate.”

Brooke Singman is a Reporter for Fox News. Follow her on Twitter at @brookefoxnews.

'Enormous progress' in US-Mexico ties, Mexican foreign minister says

Apr 27, 2017 9

Relations between the United States and Mexico have seen “enormous progress” during the first months of the administration of U.S. President Donald Trump, Mexican Foreign Minister Luis Videgaray said on Thursday.

His remarks followed a Wednesday night call between Trump and Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto in which the leaders discussed the renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

TRUMP AGREES TO RENEGOTIATE NAFTA WITH CANADA, MEXICO – FOR NOW

“We have generated a respectful dynamic through dialogue … we’ve advanced enormously in the correct direction,” Videgaray told local broadcaster Televisa in an interview.

Trump said on Thursday morning on Twitter that renegotiating NAFTA with neighboring Mexico and Canada was “very possible,” but he threatened to scrap the pact if the countries failed to reach a “fair deal for all.”

Suspended Alabama Chief Justice Moore running for US Senate

Apr 27, 2017 9

Former Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore’s entry into the U.S. Senate race adds another layer of drama to what’s already expected to be a rollicking special election to fill the seat previously held by U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

The fiery Republican jurist’s stands against gay marriage and for a courthouse display of the Ten Commandments have earned him the nickname the “Ayatollah of Alabama” from the Southern Poverty Law Center — and legions of loyal followers across the country. Moore announced his candidacy among the swelling GOP field Wednesday in what is expected to be a cutthroat primary.

“My position has always been God first, family, then country. I think I share the vision of President Donald Trump to make America great again. You know, before we can make America great again, we have got to make America good again,” the 70-year old jurist said in his campaign announcement on the steps of the Alabama Capitol.

“The foundations of the fabric of our country are being shaken tremendously. Our families are being crippled by divorce and abortion. Our sacred institution of marriage has been destroyed by the Supreme Court,” Moore said.

The high-stakes Senate race was already tinged with drama after it collided with an unlikely sex scandal that had hung over the Bible Belt state for the past year.

The U.S. Senate seat is currently held by former Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange. He was appointed by then-Gov. Robert Bentley, who resigned this month amid fallout from an alleged affair with a top staffer. Bentley had planned for a 2018 Senate election — a move that allowed his pick to hold the seat longer. But the state’s new governor, Kay Ivey, moved it up to this year, setting off what’s expected to be a four-month demolition derby among Republican contenders ahead of the Aug. 15 primary.

Strange is running for the seat. A dominant Republican in the state, Strange’s appointment became controversial because of indications that his office might have been investigating Bentley when he was elevated to the Senate. Strange in November asked an impeachment committee to pause its efforts while his office pursued “related work.”

Christian Coalition Chairman Randy Brinson and state Rep. Ed Henry, who spearheaded an impeachment push against Bentley, have also announced on the Republican side. Other hopefuls are expected to announce before qualifying ends in mid-May.

Eva Kendrick, state director of the Human Rights Campaign Alabama, a gay rights organization, said Moore is seeking “to capitalize on the name recognition he gained for harming LGBTQ people in our state.”

“Roy Moore was removed — twice — from the Alabama Supreme Court for unethical behavior; rarely does an elected official become more ethical when they are elevated to a higher office,” Kendrick said.

When Moore made his announcement, he was surrounded by two dozen cheering supporters, including some who had stood by him through previous quixotic quests such as the public display of the Ten Commandments.

“Alabama will become `Ground Zero’ in the political and cultural war,” said Dean Young, a longtime Moore supporter.

Moore has twice won statewide elections for chief justice, and twice been removed from those duties.

The Court of Judiciary, which disciplines judges, removed Moore as Alabama’s chief justice in 2003 after he disobeyed a federal judge’s order to remove a granite Ten Commandments monument that he installed in the rotunda of the state judicial building.

He was re-elected as chief justice in 2012. The judiciary panel in September suspended Moore for the remainder of his term, saying he had violated judicial ethics by urging probate judges to refuse marriage licenses to gay couples. The accusation stemmed from a Jan. 6, 2016, memo to probate judges saying an Alabama Supreme Court order to refuse marriage licenses to gay couples remained in “full force and effect” even though the highest court in the nation ruled that gays and lesbians have a fundamental right to marry.

Moore denied the charge of urging defiance and said he was only giving a status update on litigation. He resigned as chief justice Wednesday to pursue the Senate race.

Although Moore has enjoyed fame from his stances, he remains a polarizing figure in his own state and has been largely unable to parlay his reputation into political success outside of his two chief justice races as state voters abandoned him in favor of more mainstream candidates.

In 2010, he finished fourth in the Republican primary candidate for governor.

He will try to break that losing streak in the Senate race, where the crusading jurist will face a well-funded Strange and potentially other deep-pocketed business-backed candidates.

For Moore, a one-time kickboxer, West Point graduate and military police officer who earned the unflattering nickname “Captain America” from his troops because of his strict adherence to military code, taking on fights has become largely entwined with his political identity.

Moore said he had no regrets about his former stances.

“What I did, I did for the people of Alabama. I stood up for the Constitution. I stood up for God,” he said.